‘Guess I’m not going home’: Thousands more flights canceled Monday as omicron affects airline staffing

Some people didn’t make it in time to see their family for Christmas, while others had difficulty getting home. Thousands flights were canceled on Monday worldwide, and over the Christmas weekend, as the highly-contagious COVID-19 omicron variant continued its rapid spread, putting pressure on staffing at both airports and airlines.

There were  2,208 flights canceled globally on Monday, in addition to 5,103 over the past weekend; 752 flights to or out of the U.S. were also canceled on Monday, on top of the 1,717 canceled on Sunday through Christmas Day, according to FlightAware. Frustrated passengers called out airlines on Twitter
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“Guess I’m not going home tonight,” one passenger wrote, while posting a photo of an airport information board showing several cancelled and delayed flights. “Flight home canceled, stuck in Florida, nowhere to go,” a woman tweeted her airline. Another passenger wrote: “Left house at 3 a.m.. Flight got canceled. Waited 3 hours in line to rebook, then 30 minutes at Starbucks
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line.” Under federal law, passengers are entitled to a full refund if an airline cancels a flight, although many airlines will offer vouchers. Some airlines will also offer overnight hotel vouchers, depending on the time of the flight. Related: Canceling Christmas travel plans because of COVID-19? How to avoid wasting time — and money Delta Air Lines had canceled 497 flights collectively on Monday, Christmas Day and Sunday, United Airlines had canceled 427 flights, Jet Blue
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had canceled 302 flights, and American Airlines
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canceled 238 flights over the three days. The Transportation Security Administration said that 30 million people were expected to travel from Dec. 20 through Jan. 3, down from approximately 44 million during the 2019 holiday season just the coronavirus pandemic. “The nationwide spike in Omicron cases this week has had a direct impact on our flight crews and the people who run our operation,” United Airlines
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said in statement released on Christmas Eve. “Delta
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teams have exhausted all options and resources — including rerouting and substitutions of aircraft and crews to cover scheduled flying,” the airline said in a statement ahead of the Christmas weekend. COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus SARS-CoV-2, has killed 809,300 Americans. There is a daily average of 214,499 new cases in the U.S., up 83% over two weeks, according to the New York Times tracker.

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